ROCKLAND, Maine — Susanne Ward said she has been astonished about the response to the effort to raise money for a new smokeless roaster so Rock City Coffee Roasters can stay in business.
“There has been such an outpouring of support from the community,” Ward said Tuesday.
The longtime Main Street business launched an effort in mid-December to raise $80,000 for a new roaster that would eliminate emissions that have been the source of complaints from some neighbors over the past few years.
The final fundraiser was held Saturday, and the $80,000 goal was surpassed by a little more than $100, Ward said. A winter luau was held in Rockland on Saturday night with music and food provided by the Miller family, which operates the Landings restaurant.
The new roaster is scheduled to arrive and be installed next month, Ward said.
The business is providing a third of the $80,000, with another third coming from donations from customers who stop in and the remaining third through an online indiegogo crowdfunding effort.
The new roaster will assure that the business, which employs 23 people, will continue to operate. Ward said the transfer of ownership from her alone to an employee-owned cooperative also is expected to be move ahead this summer.
“It will take a while to make the transition, even after the paperwork is signed,” she said. “A lot of the information about the company is in my head, and I’ve been meeting with key employees to transfer that information.”
Ward said she will remain with Rockland City Coffee Roasters even after the transfer of ownership.
The roasting company opened in 1999 at the downtown location, an offshoot of Second Read Books and Coffee that opened seven years earlier. The coffeehouse and bookstore remain a couple of blocks away but has been renamed Rock City Cafe.
The new roaster comes before the expected opening this summer of a five-story boutique hotel next to Rock City Coffee Roasters. The complaints, however, of chaff coming from the business’ smokestack came from other neighbors.
The Loring Smart Roaster that Ward is buying is a 15-kilogram closed-system air roaster that uses a single burner to roast the coffee beans while simultaneously incinerating the smoke and chaff that traditional roasters release into the atmosphere.